More Thoughts on Grumphook

Each time I consider the Grumphook and Gertrude storyline “How to Train Your Dragon” floats up. I don’t mind my brain making the obvious comparisons and I don’t mind the likelihood readers would call that movie to mind as well, but I’d rather it not be the very first thing either of us thought. The alliterative title doesn’t help much.

For the opener I’m tempted to start at the point the king and soldiers are departing Kindlewind village. Some tense but polite words between the King and Gertrude regarding the state of the village stores. I’d follow that with an exchange between Gertrude and some second to expand on the depleted, but potentially workable situation. The King will of course promise to return with the prizes of battle…and in time for winter.

I’m tempted to do that instead of the alternative: starting sooner to show the ‘invasion’ of soldiers and the king’s lack of concern. Then I can contrast that with the dragons’ siege. This pleases me from an artistic sensibility but bothers me as too uptight for a dragon story. Additionally, there’s that well-known writing saw about starting as late in a scene as possible, so I’m back to the first option.

Maybe I get better artistic compare/contrast food looking at the similarities between Gertrude as a mother and Grumphook as a near mother. And…the best way to do that and the miraculously simple way to give the dragons a continued reason to stay in Kindlewind is to put Grumphook’s egg in the middle of it all. The egg gets stolen by the village and gets found by the dragons before the villagers can crack the egg. It shouldn’t be hard to concoct a situation in which the dragon decide to leave the egg be…probably just a matter of keeping it warm.

Now I just have to come up with a plausible way for the villagers to heist the the egg in the first place. Foolish boys sounds like the easiest bet. Using incautious teens saves me from too much rationalization on the part of the village to acquire the egg. Not that I don’t need some, but I think the king’s men depleting the resources of Kindlewind probably gets me 80% of the way there and the boys another 15% I just need a third small impetus to put me over the top for excuses.

What good is separating these same boys from the village? It splits the story in two or worse leaves me a convenient and lame out for resolving the siege in the endgame with a somewhat camouflaged deus ex machina unless I tell the boys’ story as well. However, doing that would rob Gertrude of her sole hero status and I’m inclined not to do that. What I do like about sending the boys off—letting them escape—is the struggle it introduces between Gertrude who plans to resolve the situation locally and other elements of the village incline to await the various external saviours.

Maybe I could just bring the boys back with the ancient book on dragon lore. Make them seemingly the heroes. In here I’m also thinking that the book not be bullshit as I’d previously indicated but that the ‘rules’ for engaging a dragon into a formal duel have already be satisfied with Gertrude’s prior encounter following the escape of the boys—that one of the rules is a double jeopardy sort of thing that allows Grumphook an out when Gertrude comes to make her informed proposal.

I sure have a knack for writing similar length paragraphs. That bothers me more than a little bit.

602 words on day 655

A Rocky Scholarship

Next up in the list is Rivalry. Reading the cliff notes on this one I realized half or more of the Rocky movies are about rivalry. The other half are about tomorrow’s master plot, Underdog. Or so I’d guess.

I think since it’s Monday I’ll just work from a boxing story.


Setup – Mark wins a boxing scholarship, but struggles to maintain the requisite grades to keep it while enjoying the fun on Freshman year at university.

Hook – Mark defends his Physics TA, Yuntao, against the bullying of some upperclassmen at a night club.

Plot Point 1 – Mark discovers that he and Yuntao both have eyes the same girl, and she seems to be hard pressed to make a definitive choice.

Pinch 1 – Yuntao sabotages a test Mark is studying for, but not in a directly ‘academically dishonest’ way. He regrets it too late to back out and Mark fails (or something serious) and is put on probation.

Mid-point Twist – Yuntao confesses to Mark and they argue about the betrayal. Mark decides to go it alone without his friend. He can fight and study; he’ll just knuckle down.

Pinch 2 – Despite semi-real effort on Mark’s part he flunks Physics. Because of this effort he’s been unable to spend time with Gabriella and thus Yuntao does spend time with her..

Lull – Christmas break back at home in…Nebraska. Mark spars with his farmer Dad. The old man tells him he should only try to change the things he can control and women ain’t one of them. He also iterates that Mark will have to pay for his own schooling if he loses the scholarship.

Plot Point 2 – During a friend-friend talk with Gabriella, she admits to preferring Mark over Yuntao, but having ‘chosen’ Yuntao due to his accessibility. She never really was that impressed with boxing.

Conclusion – After struggling between love and boxing, Mark chooses boxing and competes in the final match of the year. He wins; the referee, Susan, is impressed.

350 words on day 646

Revenge for the Troll

Today has not been the day for this. Grumble. If all I have to stand on for the day is that my Christmas lights are down and I end up with a crummy bit of writing, then I’ll consider the day a success.

Revenge. Revenge I’m told is about getting wronged in the first act, seeking vengeance in the second, then confronting the antagonist in the third.

Theme – Revenge.

Setup – Twins grow up without parents.

Hook – Probably a nightmare or prologue of the troll attack.

Plot Point 1 – A storyteller comes to town and weaves a tale of how a troll laid waste to a village a couple rivers over and the only survivors were a pair of twin boys. One of the two takes it more personal than the other and decides to enlist his brother to find and kill the troll. Their Uncle discourages revenge.

Pinch 1 – Visiting the ruins for the first time, the less aggressive of the two is struck by the horror of it all and collapses (into a coma?).

Mid-point Twist – Gathering information about the possible whereabouts of the troll turns up plenty of unexpected information, but one lead confirms other hints that maybe the village had it coming to them or that maybe the troll was more of a proxy for another man’s will. (The meek twin urges the other to stand-down and he himself leaves the quest).

Pinch 2 – Locating the troll, the boy(s) attack and kill it, but not before it kills the meeker twin. (I don’t know, he came back or something). The survivor finds documents hiring the troll and the penultimate clue to who that person is.

Lull – The surviving twin buries the other. A piteous graveside scene ensues.

Plot Point 2 – survivor learns that the man he’s called Uncle for all these years is the man behind it all. Dun, dun, duuuuuh. And of course why, but I don’t need to tell you that now—and can’t.

Conclusion – Well, survivor gets back home. Fucks Uncle the hell up and has a soul searching time realizing had he not gone out looking for trouble he’d never have found it. Or something karmically circular about revenge obviously hinging on stuff meek twin said earlier.

This turned out faster and better than I thought it would. I like it. Of course, I didn’t come up with a motive for the Uncle, but one will likely arise easily enough. People believe all sorts of shit on flimsy motives.

434 words on day 644